Constipation in pregnancy – ouch!
Welcome to the not so glowing and beautiful part of it all. Constipation is one of the most common pregnancy issues (to put it nicely) that expecting mothers have to deal with. You see, we have this hormone called Progesterone and it is absolutely essential in pregnancy. It allows your uterus to relax and grow from the size of an egg to the size of a watermelon. Unfortunately, this hormone doesn’t just work locally in your body it works systematically, meaning it affects the rest of your bodily functions. Among others things, progesterone widens your esophagus, which is the reason you are more prone to heartburn during pregnancy, it widens your veins, which slows down blood flow and increases the risk of thrombosis, and relaxes your intestines, which slows your digestion and makes it harder to poop.
If you’re not careful about your eating habits during pregnancy, you can easily become constipated. Constipation can cause extreme discomfort and if not treated could then lead to hemorrhoids – which leads to a really big ouch (believe me, I’ve been there).
By nourishing your body correctly from the beginning you can bypass this not so fun part of pregnancy. When I was pregnant with my second son, all I thought about when it came to nutrition was making sure my blood sugar was in the right range. Having been diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes in my previous pregnancy I wanted to make sure that it would not happen again. I paid no attention to other nutritional concerns (that was 16 years ago – if only I had known then what I know now). I was severely constipated throughout the pregnancy and ended up in the hospital where it had to be treated with an enema and other not so comfortable solutions. I got such bad hemorrhoids that young doctors would come in every day to learn about hemorrhoids and take a look at the real thing (talk about embarrassing). I will never forget what one of the nurses said: “They look like big pretty red Christmas ornaments!”
Fast forward to when I was pregnant with my 3rd son – by that time I was over 40 so I assumed things would not go as smoothly as when I was younger. But this time around I knew how to eat correctly and take care of myself and my growing baby. At my prenatal appointments, every time my doctor asked about my stool frequency, I could proudly answer “Yes…..twice a day nice and soft, without any effort”. No stomach ache, no discomfort, and no hemorrhoids this time.
So, what to do and what not to do.
First of all, stay hydrated – try to drink at least 3 liters of water a day. I know some of you are thinking “but then I have to run to the bathroom all the time!” I know you do, but think about it – wouldn’t you rather run to the bathroom more often for a quick and easy pee than sit in there for a long time painfully trying to press and push out hard rocks?
Also stay away from processed foods. White rice and pasta, chocolate, and gummy bears are absolutely free of fiber, meaning they can cause constipation, even if you are not pregnant.
Meat can also have the same effect, so limit your meat intake.
Increase your intake of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The recommended “five a day” is not nearly enough when it comes to fruits and vegetables, try to at least double that – the more the better in this case.
Magnesium is a great solution for constipation, PLEASE always consult your doctor or midwife before you start supplementing with any supplements. They will help you to find the right supplement and dosage.
Probiotics are the best way to maintain a healthy digestive system. Foods like kefir, sauerkraut, and kimchi are all great sources of probiotics. Again, if you want to use supplements PLEASE talk to your healthcare provider first.
Here is a great and easy way to prevent constipation, stay hydrated, get in loads of vitamins and nutrients in a delicious green smoothie:
* 2 glasses water
* 1 glass organic apple juice
* 1 glass goat kefir
* Two handfuls of kale
* 1 cucumber
* 1 apple or pear
* 300g frozen mango
* 2 – 3 Dates
* 2 tbsp chia seeds (better if they have been soaked in water overnight)
* 2 tbsp ground flax seed (better if freshly ground)
* Little piece of ginger (optional)
This is not an overnight solution like laxatives are, but I can promise that if you start every morning with this delicious smoothie and stay away from the above mentioned foods you will be able to answer “yes, everyday nice and smooth” when asked about your stool frequency.
I wish you a happy and healthy pregnancy